Period on Exchange: Semester 1, 2013

What courses did you study?

I studied LLM courses in international law:

  • China and the WTO
  • International Public Law
  • International IP Law
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Economic Law

The law school there also encouraged and allowed students to sit in other classes, so I also attended International Arbitration, Criminal Law and Maritime Law.

Why did you choose that university?

It’s one of the top universities in China and I wanted to experience and understand how law is taught in China.

How does studying law overseas compare to studying at UNSW?

Law is hard everywhere. The LLM classes followed a similar ‘small class’ teaching style like UNSW but the LLB courses were presented in a lecture style with powerpoints and minimal classroom interaction.

What was the cost of living compared to Australia?

It’s China. It’s cheap. Accommodation in Beijing is a little pricier than most places and foreign items (e.g. Australian milk) are more expensive than back in Sydney.

What was your accommodation arrangement?

I stayed on campus booked through the university. Like a serviced apartment, just smaller, with less facilities, visitor curfews and very basic rooms.

What were the highlights of your experience?

Travelling – in between readings realms of cases and textbooks. Travel is cheap and convenient. When I wasn’t exploring Beijing, I was off trying to see more of other places. People – meeting people from all over the world. Not that I have anything against the monoculture at UNSW, but I definitely enjoyed the cultural diversity while overseas. Food – canteen food was so cheap and convenient (with the cost of one week’s worth of food in Australia, I could afford a month or so in China). Convenience – deliveries, cheap and convenient transport, all night cafes (with wifi) and 24 hour breakfasts are things I still miss.

What were the main challenges you faced, if any?

The communication between the host and home university is very limited. Information on courses is not available before you get there, and when there, you have to depend on yourself, luck and friends you meet to get the semester organised and classes sorted. One direct result of this miscommunication was that the exchange office here at UNSW was misinformed that there would only be Chinese-taught classes and that I needed to pass the hardest level in this Chinese test (HSK). Because of that, I had to study and give myself a crash course on Chinese reading and writing the semester beforehand so I could pass this exam and get a certificate. I was very annoyed. When I arrived in China, I was told it was not required and there were English-taught classes anyway.